New York Postby Raquel Laneri
Feb. 19, 2022
“Anyone I know will tell you, when they think of me, they think, ‘She has big d–k energy’ — that’s who I am,” the statuesque 30-year-old announces in Episode 1, which premiered in January. She then sweeps into a work event dressed in a dramatic evening gown with a floor-length cape attached.
“I love fashion and style and dressing up,” Calabrese — this time dressed in a saucy red silk dress with black polka dots — told The Post. “It’s a way to express myself. And I love commanding attention when I walk into a room.”
That brashness has certainly helped Calabrese, a former model, thrive in the cut-throat world of New York City real estate, where she has worked as an agent for Nest Seekers since 2019.
But she’s also warm, easygoing and kind. While her five “Selling the Hamptons” co-stars squabble, gossip and undercut one another, Calabrese maintains her cool.
“There’s definitely a lot of drama around everybody else,” Calabrese said with a laugh. “I’m kind of like Switzerland.” The latest episodes of “Selling the Hamptons,” however, show her beginning to assert herself. “You’re going to see my character develop more,” she promised.
Calabrese was born in 1991, on the South Side of Chicago, the youngest of two children. Her Italian father worked in sales, and her mother, from Belize, furnished Chicago public schools.
“Our house was so intense, just so fun,” Calabrese said, recalling boisterous family gatherings filled with extended relatives dancing and eating plates of pasta or rice and beans. “It was so loud all the time. My dad was hilarious, my mom is hilarious, they were both amazing cooks, and they loved each other so much.”
Dolce and Gabbana dress, $1,795 at BergdorfGoodman.com. Tamara Beckwith/NY Post
When she was a teen, Calabrese announced that she wanted to become a model. “I had big frizzy hair, I had buck teeth with a huge gap, and I was wearing my brother Nick’s hand-me-downs,” she said. “I just looked crazy.”
But her father — who died when Calabrese was 22 — encouraged her. “He said, ‘Princess, baby girl, if that’s what you want to do, that’s what we’re going to do for you.’” He took Calabrese to every modeling agency in town.
When they all said no, she regrouped, learned how to “tame” her hair, and went back. She got her first contract at 16.
“I just believed in myself,” she said. “And when someone tells me no, I’m like, ‘I want it even more now!’”
After high school, Calabrese continued modeling, and while she liked the money, she yearned for something more. In 2010, she visited a friend in New York City.
“I remember coming over the bridge from LaGuardia and I could just feel the energy,” she said. Walking around, she decided she wanted to move here. “Everyone was so interesting, everyone was so beautiful, everyone was cool. As a girl from the Midwest, I was loving all of this.”
Calabrese moved to lower Manhattan that fall to study government and politics at St. John’s University. She stopped modeling and, during her junior year, began working as a concierge for the downtown burlesque nightclub The Box, managing VIP guests. After a taste of that glamorous world, she said, “I knew I didn’t want to work in government anymore.”
Yet by 2018, nightlife began to take its toll on her body. Her brother, who was working as a real estate agent in Chicago, encouraged her to follow in his footsteps.
“I’ve always been interested in architecture and design, so it seemed like a good fit,” Calabrese said. Plus, dealing with demanding clients as a concierge helped prepare her for the “high-pressure” world of New York real estate. “I learned to be calm but assertive and to manage expectations.”
Calabrese joined Nest Seekers in 2019, where she not only deals with high-end rentals but also condo sales that fly upward of $6 million. Yet the Financial District resident said that nothing prepared her for the drama of trying to sell in the Hamptons in front of an entire documentary camera crew.
The show, which filmed last summer, marked her first season selling in the Hamptons.
Though all six agents are with Nest Seekers, Calabrese hadn’t really spent time with any of the others before filming began.
After she was cast, her future co-star J.B. Andreassi, a Hamptons native, came to the city to meet her. “We just totally hit it off, and that was fantastic because when we went to film we had already broken the ice,” she said. That was crucial since she didn’t want to be seen as a city girl encroaching on his turf or trying to steal sales from him. “It didn’t have to be a weird threatening thing, so it was good.”
Still, the process was “nerve-wracking.” “Modeling is different,” she explained. “You take a photo, you have someone editing you and a whole team behind you [making sure you look good]. Reality TV is not like that. It’s like, you go out there and whatever happens happens.” Plus, selling opulent million-dollar beach houses is stressful enough without lights in your face and two camera crews staring at you.
The single Calabrese is enjoying her winter in Manhattan, cooking and spending time with friends — and watching “Selling the Hamptons.” Every Thursday, she wakes up around 5:30 a.m. to stream the latest episode, hoping she comes off well.
“It’s a very new thing for me,” she said. “I’m just trying to be appreciative and stay in gratitude.”
But she said she would do it again in a heartbeat, adding that she gets a lot of Instagram messages from black women saying that they love seeing her succeed in the very white world of Hamptons real estate.
“I didn’t experience any challenges [because of my race], but also, I command attention wherever I go,” Calabrese said. “People are always gonna look at me and be aware, ‘Oh, she’s here.’ I just have that personality. And I’m not afraid. I’m not intimidated. This is who I am. I’m just as smart as you. I’m just as good as you, so I’m not gonna let anyone try to tell me I’m not supposed to be somewhere.”
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson